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Gary-Numan

‘You are in my vision, I can’t turn my face’

‘Stories’ (Dance 1981)

A stylistic mish-mash of ‘Let’s move to …’ with VH1’s Behind the Music, this fly-on-the-wall film documents the story of electro-bot avatar Gary Numan. Archive footage is interspersed with a warts ‘n’ all charting of Numan’s career, marriage and life-saving relocation to the USA taking in copious ups and downs culminating in a Hollywood ending.

‘Complex’ (The Pleasure Principle 1979)

Shy, awkward Gary Webb abandoned his punk dreams metamorphasising into ‘Gary Numan’ (new-man). Inspired by sci-fi doyen Phillip K. Dick and dystopia-teller J.G. Ballard’s tales of androids and the (supposed) security-blanket of technology and augmented by the bourgeoning synth-sound success ensued with the future-shock anthem ‘Are Friends Electric’ and the ever-kinetic ‘Cars’.

‘This Disease’ (The Fury 1985)

Long perceived as diffident and rude (which in turn helped cement his ‘alien-other’ persona) he was diagnosed with Aspergers in his 40s, finally explaining his uncommunicativeness around others and his fascination with technology which perplexed his Dad who shown interviewed in 1980 blithely says ‘I’ve grown to like his music, his lyrics, don’t understand them … don’t know where he gets it from’.

‘Something’s in the House’ (Tubeway Army 1979)

Commercial success in the face of critical disdain saw him retreat to a house in the country, secluding himself off into the smallest room (re)watching Monty Python and living off chips with a dinghy for company. This way madness lies, the ‘paranoid android’ haemorrhaging money, his career nosedived, bruised by fame’s fleeting game.

‘This is new love’ (Berserker 1984)

In a tale straight from Jackie, super-fan (and future wife) Gemma O’Neill landed a date with her idol, an image-shattering recollection fondly recalled in the film (‘I went to his house and he was wearing moccasins’).

‘Exile’ (Exile 1997)

A rift with Numan’s parents resulted in the family leaving the countryside and ‘domesto-city’ for pastures new and hoped for salvation in Los Angeles.

‘Me! I Disconnect from You’/ ‘We Are So Fragile’ (Replicas 1979)

2009 – 2011 saw both Gemma and Numan experiencing severe lows, respectively creative stasis and post-natal depression; both with prescription pill dependency. Being away from ‘home’ and both on anti-depressants pushed them apart, the two years remembered as ‘all shit’.

‘The Joy Circuit’ (Telekon 1980)

The release of 2013’s Splinter signified a resurrection, rejuvenation and revival Lazarus would be proud of. The album reached number 20, his first hit since 1983’s Warriors, a rebirth creatively, critically and cathartically. His muse was back, the music followed.

This new lease of life led to his first tour in 7 years, a reconciliation with his parents and Numan embracing the touring rigmarole, the album launch capturing him anxious (‘everything’s in place so something must go wrong’) yet still adored, finally at ease with the fame game.

‘Listen to my voice’ (Pure 2000)

His influence prevails to this day with those adopting the stark, dystopic themes and sound ranging from trip-hopping Tricky to US alt-Pumpkin Billy Corgan and Nine Inch Nail Trent Reznor. Basement Jaxx appropriating ‘M.E’s swirling organ sound for 2001’s ‘Where’s your head at’

Numan is forever frank, affable and endearingly still the same shy outsider that captivated many 40 years ago. Numan is human … in moccasins.

‘Plug me in and turn me on’

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